What We Like
Uses certified organic ingredients
Recipes go big on vegetables, low on saturated fat
Offers plans for specific diets such as keto and paleo
Meals are fast and easy
What We Don't Like
Not easy to choose recipes from other plans
Shipping isn’t free, and is calculated per box
Dishes are just OK
Several meal kit delivery companies offer customers the option to upgrade to organic meat, but rarely use organic produce. And many companies offer paleo, low-carb or gluten-free meals, but they’re not certified gluten-free or low carb enough to work for Keto dieters. That’s where Green Chef comes in. It’s one of the first meal kit delivery companies to offer USDA-certified organic ingredients. And if you subscribe to the keto or paleo meal plans, the ingredients are certified gluten-free through the Gluten Intolerance Group’s (GIP) Gluten-Free Food Service program. We recently tried the service, cooking through three kits to see if the recipes were as easy and delicious as they are healthful. Read on to see how Green Chef stacked up.
How It Works: Commit to a Plan
After setting up an account and picking a delivery day, we were prompted to pick a plan. But picking a plan is quite confusing and not very flexible. Green Chef offers five plans and each costs a different price per serving.
- Balanced Living (the default; $11.99)
- Plant-Powered (vegetarian and vegan; $11.99)
- Paleo ($12.99)
- Keto ($12.99)
- Family Plan (servings for 4 in one box; $10.99)
- Omnivore Family Plan
- Carnivore Family Plan
As a result of the different price points, subscribers can’t choose meals from different plans unless they switch plans. If you’re in, say, the Balanced Living plan, you can’t simply add a paleo or keto meal to your menu without switching to that plan. But what if you don’t want all three meals to be keto? Too bad. That lack of flexibility is pretty frustrating. However, the Balanced Living plan does have some vegetarian and low-carb options, just not as many to choose from.
Also, the service is set up to ship subscribers one box with three two-serving meals in it, period. If you want more meals you have to order another box with three meals in it. That means if you want just four or five meals a week you’re out of luck, you must get six. And since each meal serves two people you’ll have to order another box of three meals if you want to serve four. Keep in mind, shipping is charged per box.
Green Chef delivers every day except Sunday, but the delivery days available to each subscriber depends on your location.
For those consistently serving four people, you can opt for Family Plan. It’s cheaper at $10.99 per serving, but what you gain in savings you give up in choices. You get two four-serving meals in the box, and there are no other options besides the two default meals.
Once you select your plan, you're good to go. Green Chef delivers every day except Sunday, but the delivery days available to each subscriber depends on your location. For us, we could only choose between Wednesday and Friday. The boxes can arrive anytime between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Ours came in the early afternoon. We brought it indoors and didn’t open it until after 7 p.m. and the contents were still cold.
Choosing Meals: Healthful Recipes
One great thing about Green Chef is it makes eating healthfully a no-brainer. The recipes are all designed with nutrition in mind. While other meal kit services go heavy on juicy burgers and cheesy pastas, casseroles, and sandwiches, Green Chef goes deep on lean meats, whole grains, and lots of vegetables. If you’re watching things such as fat, cholesterol, and carbs, Green Chef cuts out the temptation.
Recipe options depend on which plan you’re in. We opted for the Balanced Living plan and could choose from eight recipes, two of which were vegetarian and five were gluten-free. The recipes tend to be variations on the “protein set on a bed of vegetables” theme. Though flavors range from Middle Eastern (falafel) to vaguely Asian (bibimbap or coconut curry), they mostly don’t venture far into the truly global territory.
If you don’t like the recipe choices in your plan, you can click “View Other Menus” to see the paleo and keto plans. But you can’t just choose one meal from those plans, you have to commit one of those plans for the week and choose your three meals from within it.
If you’re watching things such as fat, cholesterol, and carbs, Green Chef cuts out the temptation.
The photos of each recipe offer quick information such as “gluten-free,” “heart-smart,” or “chef favorite.” Click on the picture and get cook time, nutrition facts and ingredients. If you want to see the entire recipe and all the steps, click “recipe card” and you can even download and print it out.
Almost all of the recipes take 30 minutes, though some are a bit speedier at 25 minutes and others a bit longer at 40, though the prep time is minimal.
- Orange-Miso Chicken with Ginger Peanut Sauce, Sesame Carrots and Edamame
- Pork Tenderloins with Balsamic Fig Sauce
- Barbecue Meatloaf with Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli, Corn and Honey-Mustard Sauce
Support Materials: Just Recipe Cards
Each kit comes with full-color recipe cards with helpful step-by-step photos. It was easy to see how small things needed to be diced, or what they should look like when they were finished cooking. The cards didn’t list items we’d need to provide from our pantry or cookware collection, but it was easy to figure out. The only nutrition information listed was the calorie count, but full nutrition information can be found on the website.
Unlike most meal kit delivery companies, Green Chef doesn’t offer an app or a blog. But the website is easy enough to use. And we were perfectly able to navigate it even on our phones.
Packaging: Just Like Every Other Company
Green Chef prides itself on its eco-friendliness, but its packaging is not really different from the rest.
Like every other company we’ve tried, the kits arrive in a cardboard box, which is easily recyclable at the curb. But Green Chef uses ClimaCell to insulate the box. It’s a plant-based material that is curbside recyclable and sandwiched between sheets of kraft paper. We loved being able to just toss this in the recycle bin instead of having to drive to the clothing recycling center to drop off the usual recycled denim insulation. It is, however, encased in film plastic (like a plastic bag), which is recyclable in some areas but not ours.
The ingredients for each meal were bundled into recyclable paper bags to make organizing easy. We tucked the bags in the fridge and simply grabbed one when it was time to cook. Like other companies, Green Chef packages the meats separately between large ice packs to keep them cold and away from the produce.
But inside each paper bag, most of the ingredients were also wrapped in plastic bags. There were plastic pouches of sauces and condiments, and in one case we had one single scallion in a plastic bag. This is pretty typical of most meal kit companies we’ve tried. Sure, these bags are recyclable in many areas, but it’s still wasteful. Until meal kit companies start packaging their ingredients in compostable plastic, wasteful packaging will continue to be an issue.
The Cooking Process: Minimal Prep
Many of Green Chef’s recipes state a cook time of 30 minutes, and we found this to be accurate. The one recipe that took 40 minutes was mostly cooking on its own in the oven. The recipes often come with pouches of sauces and condiments, so there’s really very little prep work that needs to be done — usually just dicing or slicing two vegetables, that’s it. Any beginner would have no trouble making these recipes.
Many of Green Chef’s recipes state a cook time of 30 minutes, and we found this to be accurate.
But as effortless as they are, they did seem to require quite a few pots and pans. Often we had to employ two skillets, plus a pot for cooking rice, or a couple sheet pans for roasting potatoes. There were several instances where we could see ways to streamline things a bit. Why not roast the broccoli florets along with the potato wedges instead of sauteing them separately? Why stir fry the chicken in a separate pan from the vegetables? Still, even with the extra pans, clean up wasn’t onerous.
Flavor, Freshness and Quality: Healthy but Basic
The ingredients were in OK shape. Some of the carrots had broken ends, some of the broccoli florets had discolored tips on the stem end. Our one scallion was a bit droopy. Did any of this affect the flavor? Not at all. And, hey, at least it was all organic.
The portion sizes were generous and even the big eater among us felt completely satisfied. And since the recipes didn’t include loads of bread or cheese, we felt good afterward, not weighed down.
The portion sizes were generous and even the big eater among us felt completely satisfied.
That being said, the overall flavor of the recipes was middle of the road. None wowed us. There wasn’t one we’d order again. The best of the bunch was the Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Fig Sauce. You can’t really go wrong with pork, mashed potatoes, and carrots, even though these were as simple as can be. A sprinkling of dried herbs was the only adornment. But the balsamic fig sauce offered enough bold, bright and sweet flavor to lift the dish.
Our second favorite was the Orange-Miso Chicken. A simple stir fry of chicken marinated in orange-miso sauce, plus diced carrots and edamame, it was akin to, say, a basic chicken stir-fry from a mall.
The Barbecue Meatloaf was the saddest meal. There was nothing mixed into the meat to help lighten it, no vegetables or breadcrumbs, so it baked into a hard loaf of beef with sticky barbecue sauce on top. The broccoli was steam-sautéed with corn kernels, which is an odd combo. The best part of the dish were the potato wedges, simply because roasted potatoes are always good.
Who It’s Good For?
Green Chef is good for people who want to eat healthfully and are following a strict gluten-free, paleo or keto diet and don’t have time to plan meals and shop.
Who It Isn’t Good For?
People who prioritize flavor over healthfulness will likely be disappointed by Green Chef’s rather bland meals.
Customer Service: Just the FAQs
OK, there’s a little more to Green Chef’s customer service than the Frequently Asked Questions page, but it’s pretty minimal. You can call or e-mail, and customer service reps are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Making Changes and Canceling: Easy to Do
Changing meals within a plan is a cinch. Just hit Edit and tick the box. It’s just a little more limiting if you want a meal in a different plan. Skipping weeks or changing delivery days is super easy too since everything can be done from the main menu page. Green Chef also tells you what the deadline is each week to make changes, so you can easily stay on top of things. Just be sure to make any changes and cancellations by 9 p.m. a week before your delivery date.
The Competition: Green Chef vs. Sun Basket
Green Chef and Sun Basket both launched in 2014 and both have a healthful, eco-friendly focus. Both rely almost completely on certified organic ingredients, though with Sun Basket you have to pay extra to upgrade to organic meat, which is simply the default (and only choice) with Green Chef.
The cost per serving for both companies is about the same, though a bit higher than mainstream companies. For three meals for two people, the price per serving is $11.99 for both Green Chef and Sun Basket, and both charge $6.99 for shipping. And both offer a four-serving family plan that’s cheaper at $10.99 per serving, though Sun Basket gives those subscribers more options for their meals.
Both services specialize in health-conscious meals and offer plans that cater to the restrictions of those on vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and paleo diets. Though Sun Basket doesn’t label its meals as keto, it offers many that are low enough in carbohydrates to qualify. It also offers diabetes-friendly meals.
Sun Basket offers a lot more choices in general, including add-ons like breakfast, lunch, snacks, and meats to make your own meals. We’ve tested both services and found that Sun Baskets meals are more delicious, but not quite as simple and easy as Green Chef.
Simple and healthy.
Green Chef’s meals may not win any taste awards, but they’re very simple to make even for beginners. Prep work takes just a few minutes and the result is healthful, lean, vegetable-laden meals built on organic ingredients. If you're following strict diet plans, it may be worth a try. If you're expecting to knock the socks off your dinner guests, you might want to try another service like Sun Basket.
- Product Brand Green Chef
- Price $78.93
- Standard Price 78.93 including shipping (3 meals for 2 people)
- Shipping $6.99 per box
- Typical Cost per Serving $11.99
- Lowest Cost per Serving $10.99 (must order 2 meals for 4 people on the Family Plan)
- Weekly Meal Options Choose one, two or three boxes each with three 2-serving meals
- Promotional Deals New subscribers get 25% off and free shipping on their first box, and $25 off the next two orders.